Jonny Bairstow shows boldness needed for England duty

Chester-le-Street

Yorkshire 589-8dec 

Gale 124, Lyth 104, Williamson 97, Bairstow 95

Durham 62-1

Having taken over from an out-of-touch Matt Prior for the last two Tests in Australia, Yorkshire’s Jonny Bairstow is technically the man in possession of England’s wicketkeeping gloves, although he began this season with few supporters as a candidate to retain them this summer.

Already burdened with question marks over his batting technique – and the ability to contribute significantly with the bat is a pre-requisite for an international wicketkeeper – Bairstow did little to assuage the doubts in his four innings in Melbourne and Sydney. 

Back in 2012, when he replaced Kevin Pietersen – post “textgate” – for the third Test against South Africa at Lord’s, he seemed to have the world at his feet, producing two superb attacking innings of 54 and 95 and was narrowly denied what would have been a brilliant maiden Test hundred. He has not matched that standard since, however.

Interestingly, though, he made reference to that match in particular after he returned to action for Yorkshire against Durham here with another score of 95, and was denied a century this time by a questionable umpiring decision.

Out of action since breaking a finger pre-season, Bairstow looked in strikingly good order, more so perhaps than Andrew Gale, his captain, who did go on to complete a century in a stand of 198 for the fourth wicket that enabled Yorkshire to take control.

Asked about what he had to do to keep Prior out of the England side, he said he needed to bat in Test cricket as he did yesterday, with more confidence. “That’s something I haven’t necessarily done,” he said. “I’ve not gone out and played the way I have done in county cricket.

“The way I played at Lord’s against South Africa in the first and second innings was how I want to go about my cricket and [for Yorkshire] always have done.”

After hitting 11 boundaries, he was given out leg-before when a ball from Chris Rushworth hit him high enough on the back leg to be passing over the stumps in television replays, although umpire Jeremy Lloyds thought otherwise and sent the batsman on his way, rubbing his thigh meaningfully.

Gale, who had left himself out of Yorkshire’s previous match, looked more fluent than he had on the opening day and confidently punished the short and wide deliveries, of which there were far too many.  The relief and pleasure that came with 16th first-class hundred was clear to see.

A half-century from Adil Rashid bolstered the Yorkshire total further. Gale declared on 589 for 8, which is the third highest score made on this ground. Durham so far have lost only one wicket in 19 overs in reply.

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